You don’t need to train like a professional ballerina to get that svelte body. BAZAAR tests three hybrids of barre workouts that will have you strutting in graceful shape, fast. By Li Ying Lim and Aisha Hassan.
There is something so graceful about the comportment of a ballerina. It is a rigorous art form, a calm façade that belies the extreme and tireless hours put into practice, and there is no dance that rings truer when it comes to the trite saying of “practice makes perfect”. Some of us may not possess the flexibility to pursue pliés, but this is where modified, ballet-inspired workouts come in. Those gliding sylph statures—they can still be achieved through these modern barre workouts.
What: Created by professional dancer and choreographer Andrea Rogers, Xtend Barre has amassed a following that includes Madonna. Fusing elements of dance with lightweight strength training and pilates in a sequence of calorie-burning energy bursts, this total body workout challenges every muscle group. A sweat-inducing warm up leads to weighted upper body exercises, followed by ballet barre routines to sculpt your lower body (think strong quads and toned glutes), before finishing with an intense abdominal session on the floor. As the name suggests, it’s an extension of the barre— not wholly relying on it— while still employing methods that deliver the lean, flexible grace of a dancer. The specific moves within this series vary, ensuring dynamism and new challenges each time. Xtend Barre classes also offer multi-level modifications suitable for beginners, prenatal clients, or those recovering from injuries, making it the ideal regimen for anyone with achieving a strong physique as a goal. In Andrea’s words, “if pilates sculpts your body, Xtend chisels it.” Calories burned: 500 to 600 calories per class. Where: Urban Spring is Malaysia’s premier destination for Xtend Barre. Priced at RM85 per class. 57-1, Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar. Tel: 03-2095 3998. www.urban-spring.com
What: Bursting into the mainstream with film noir hit Black Swan, former New York City Ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers is bringing to light the workout that sculpted Natalie Portman’s tragic ingénue. Ballet barre mixes classic ballet moves with intensive stretches and exercises to give you that lean physique. “The exercises target ballet muscles— inner thighs, back of the leg, butt, deep through the core, and muscles all through your upper body,” explains Bowers. “We’re doing everything with all the muscles around your quadriceps without really engaging them. That’s the defining difference between Ballet Beautiful and a typical barre workout. In ballet, you’re toning muscles but also elongating, which makes a tremendous difference in the way the body shapes.” Calories burned: 400 to 500 calories per class, with a postworkout burn of 100 calories. Where: Take a live online class or pick up the extensive workout DVDs. www,balletbeautiful.com
What: Created by Hollywood fitness extraordinaire Richard Giorla, Cardio Barre is designed to get your heart racing. Combining barre moves taken from classical ballet and light weights, Giorla makes you move to high energy music without jumping and kicking, giving you the calorie burn without causing any impact on your joints. Often touted as California’s answer to New York City’s graceful version of barre, this highwattage workout takes barre work, weights, and aerobic dance all into account. Actress Dakota Fanning is also a faithful follower. Calories burned: 400 to 500 calories per class. Where: Get your fix on-the-go with workout DVDs, instructed by Giorla and trainer Kelly Newkirk. All you need is a chair (if you don’t have the barre) and mat. www.cardiobarre.com
Mary Helen Bowers, celebrity barre trainer, is founder of the New York-based Ballet Beautiful
Andrea Rogers, founder of Xtend Barre
Jacquelyn Umof, better known on Instagram as @ actionjacquelyn, is a devotee of Cardio Barre
The fashion-friendly ballet barre is desired by fashion editors, including Carine Roitfeld